From the governor’s proposed gas tax to restoring state funding for the local Driver Testing Center, Warren County’s state lawmakers fielded questions before a packed house Friday morning during the annual Legislative Breakfast at the TSU Nursery Research Center.
“It will be a budget item for next year,” said State Sen. Janice Bowling of efforts to restore state funding for the Driver Testing Center that was defunded by the state last year but later reopened thanks to a city-county collaboration. “The former commissioner (who defunded the local station) was from Memphis. Those from urban areas do not understand how small towns work.”
She, along with State Rep. Judd Matheny agree the new director of transportation is more receptive to again funding the Driver Testing Center, thereby taking the financial burden off Warren County and McMinnville.
“He (new state transportation director David Purkey) is assuring me he is doing everything he can,” Matheny said, noting it was unfortunate that the state legislature had to play like “keystone cops” just to get the Driver Testing Center back into consideration.
As for the governor’s suggested 7-cent increase in the state gasoline tax, state Rep. Paul Sherrell joined his two fellow lawmakers in declaring he supports an alternative plan put forth by David Hawk that would use a portion of the proceeds from the state’s sales tax instead of raising the gas tax.
“The problem is that it’s more than a tax on gas,” Bowling said, pointing out such a tax would affect shipping and distribution of products due to the jump that diesel would take. She feels it would hurt businesses in the state and lead to inflation due to an increase in transporting goods.
“I could see it if we were broke, but we’re not,” Sherrell said of the proposed gas tax increase, noting road improvements do need to be funded, but by using other funding channels.
Matheny pointed out the state is more than a billion dollars to the good at present thanks to smart use of taxpayer money and the Hawk plan is more feasible and less likely to negatively impact the state’s economy.
In addition to the two aforementioned questions, lawmakers discussed their top priorities at the state capitol. Their discussion can be viewed in its entirety on video in the multimedia section on this website. The video site is free to everyone.